There are two main groups of sugars: mono saccharides (glucose, fructose and galactose) and disaccharides (lactose, maltose and sucrose). Glucose is present in fruits, some vegetables, honey and corn syrup. It is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Fructose is found in fruits and honey. It is often preferred over glucose and sucrose because it is absorbed less quickly, especially when from fresh fruits. Lactose is composed of glucose and galactose. It is sometimes called milk sugar. It is also absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower rate. Sucrose is refined table sugar; it contains no extra nutrients. Brown muscovado and other raw sugars have small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium ant potassium. Dark molasses are a decent source of calcium, iron and potassium, and have traces of B vitamins. Maltose is found in barley malt and some cereals. It is a product of seed germination, fermentation or both. As a primary ingredient in malt beer, maltose causes blood sugar levels to skyrocket.
Starches are the longest strands of glucose beats stored in plants. Not all starches are equal. Brown, unpolished rice is a healthier choice than polished white rice. Typically, brown rice has a nutrient advantage overwrite rice. They have more protein, fiber, iron, zinc, folic acid, vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and calcium. Whole wheat, rye or multigrain breads pack more nutrients than white bread. Beware of brown breads that aren't made from whole wheat, rye or molasses.
Fibers are long strands of sugars (polysaccharides) similar to starch. But unlike starch, most fibers cannot be broken down by the body's digestive enzymes. Thus, they are calorie-free. Whether soluble (found in dried beans, lentils, oat and rice bran, and fruit jams ant jellies) or insoluble (found in leaves, peels, skins and outer cover of grains like wheat ant rice bran), fiber is a healthy option. Fiber curbs overeating, does not cause rapid elevation in blood sugar, promotes healthy digestive tracts and regular stool movement, slows fat absorption and lowers blood cholesterol, and reduces risks of cancer.
Sugar alcohols are synthetic sugars engineered and manufactured from sugars and cellulose. They are absorbed less quickly than table sugar, thus discouraging incidences of blood sugar level fluctuations and mood swings. These are sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt and starch hydroxylate. According to dietitian Mary Abbott Hess in "The Art of Cooking for the diabetics" the body processes simple sugars in much the same way it does starch in rice or potato. So the emphasis is really on total carbohydrates. We have to choose healthier carbohydrate-rich foods. An oranges half a cup of regular gelatin dessert, and half a cup of regular ice cream contains 15 grams of carbohydrates each, says Hess. However, the orange and gelatin give only 60 calories each. Ice cream has a whopping 150 calories (not to mention 12 grams of fat and about 45 milligrams of cholesterol). Gelatin comes packed with more fiber than an orange, and has vitamins A and C and traces of minerals. Although ice cream offers calcium, potassium, vitamin A and some protein, there are less-fattening choices. In processed foods, anything added to carbohydrates usually adds calories, the culprits that give carbohydrates a bum rap.
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